BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE SECOND DEGREE
In one sense the Fellowcraft Degree symbolizes the stage of adulthood
and responsibility during a man's life on earth. In this stage, his task
is to acquire knowledge and apply it to the building of his character
and improving the society in which he lives. As the father of our Masonic
lectures, William Preston saw Masonry as a means to educate men in the
liberal arts and sciences. A Fellowcraft Mason is urged to advance his
education in these fields during the ritual of this Degree.
Some view the three grade system of Blue Lodge Masonry as representing
a progressive teaching directed toward perfecting human nature. It is
a simple and straightforward view of human nature divided into three parts:
body, mind and soul. Each Degree addresses and instructs one part. The
First Degree encompasses the body and our faculties of action in the world.
The four cardinal virtues are extolled as the proper guides to our action
in the world that we may perfect our relation to it. The Second Degree
addresses the mind and its faculties. We are instructed in the Seven Liberal
Arts and Sciences which were formulated hundreds of years ago in order
to develop and perfect the mental nature. The intention was to prepare
the mind for spiritual truths. The Third Degree confers the central Mystery
of Freemasonry; that is, how the soul may be brought to its perfection.
If we accept the view of Masonry’s purpose given above, then it
is obvious that the Fellowcraft Degree encompasses much more than just
gaining a broad-based education. The teachings of this Degree are extremely
profound and surprisingly exact.
SYMBOLS AND ALLEGORIES OF THE SECOND DEGREE
In the Second Degree you discovered that a number of emblems and symbols
of the First Degree reappeared in it; you will also discover in the future
that a number of its own emblems and symbols will reappear in the Third
Degree. It shall, at this time be confined to those symbols and allegories
that belong peculiarly to the Second Degree.
Among the allegories peculiar to it, the most striking and important one
is that rite in which you as a candidate acted the part of a man approaching
King Solomon's Temple; you came into its outer precincts, passed between
the Two Pillars, climbed a winding stair, and at last entered its Inner
Chamber, or Sanctum Sanctorum; standing in it you acted the part of a
Fellowcraft workman who received his wages of Corn, Wine, and Oil; and
during certain stages of this allegorical journey you listened to various
parts of a discourse which Masonry calls the Middle Chamber Lecture. We
become invested with the ability to hear the teachings of our Fraternity
and keep them close to our heart. Finally, we are reminded of our central
focus in the symbolism of the letter “G” and the humility
it should inspire.
This entire acted allegory is a symbolic picture of the true and inner
meaning of initiation. The Temple is the life into which a man is initiated.
That which lay outside the walls of the Temple, from which as a candidate
were supposed to come, represents what in Masonry is called the profane
world— not profane in the usual sense of the word as being blasphemous,
but profane in the technical sense; the word literally means "shut
away from the altar," and it thereby signifies all who are not initiated;
when a brother is instructed not to reveal the secrets to a profane, it
means not to reveal them to an uninitiated person; that is, to one who
is not a Mason. The stairs you climbed represented the steps by which
the life of initiation is approached—qualification, petition, election,
and the Three Degrees. The Pillars represent birth; when a candidate passes
between them it signified that he is were no longer a profane but had
now entered the circle of initiates. The Middle Chamber represents initiation
completed; once arrived there the candidate receives the rewards for the
ordeals and arduous labors he had endured on the way; he has arrived at
This, as was said, is an allegorical picture of Masonic initiation, but
our interpretation cannot stop here; for the whole process of Masonic
initiation is itself a symbolic allegory of something else, so that in
this central portion of the Degree we have an allegory within an allegory.
We must ask then what is symbolized by Masonic initiation itself.
The answer is that it symbolizes, and in so doing interprets, the experience
of every man who seeks the good life; and by interpreting it teaches us
how the good life is found. This will be best explained by one or two
As one of these examples consider that form of the good life which we
are seeking when we seek education or enlightenment. Ignorance is one
of the greatest of evils; enlightenment is one of the greatest of goods.
How does a man pass from one to another? In the beginning a man is a profane,
stands in the outside darkness, is in that ignorance from which he would
escape into the Inner Chamber of Knowledge. How is he qualified? By having
the necessary desire to learn and by possessing the required faculties
and abilities. How does he find his way? By trusting to his guides, that
is, his teachers, and these may be teachers in the professional sense,
or they may be others who have themselves learned that which the seeker
needs to know, or they may be books. What kind of path does the seeker
follow? It is a winding path, that is, he must feel his way along from
stage to stage, for he has never walked it before; it is an ascending
path, that is, laborious, arduous, difficult, for there is no royal road
to learning. What is the door through which he can enter? It is a door
composed of the Two Pillars, which means birth; this signifies that knowledge
must be won inside our own natures, through what happens there; others
may assist but their assistance is limited; each man must learn by his
own efforts, and knowledge is never permanently won until it is made a
part of ourselves. What are the rewards? The rewards are found in knowledge
itself which not alone is useful because of what it enables us to do but
is a thing to be enjoyed for its own sake, like food or sleep or music;
it is its own Corn, Wine, and Oil. The value of enlightenment is represented
by the Temple; this means that it is holy and sacred. Why holy? Because
it is set apart from the world of ignorance. Why sacred? Because it has
been won at the cost of great sacrifice, sacrifice by ourselves and by
all our forefathers who at great cost won it for us.
It is by the same methods that a man wins all the other great goods of
life: religion, which is the knowledge of God; brotherhood, which is a
life of fellowship grounded in good will; art, which gives us ways and
means of enjoying the beautiful; citizenship, by which we are enabled
to enjoy the goods of communal life; science, by which we learn the nature
of the world we live in; and literature, by which we enter into communion
with the life of all mankind. A good life is one in which all such good
things are enjoyed.
All this, you may say, is commonplace. It is commonplace only in the sense
that it conforms to the experience of all wise men everywhere and always.
It is not common in the sense that all men understand it or follow it.
For it is certain that many men do not understand it, or if they do, have
not the will to follow it, or else do not sincerely believe in it in their
Such men, when they are young, are so impatient, or else are so indolent
or so self-conceited, that they refuse to submit themselves to a long
and painful apprenticeship, but rush out into adult life with all its
tasks and responsibilities, without training and without knowledge, trusting,
as we say, to their luck.
This belief that the goods of life come, or ever can come, by luck, or
that they happen by chance or fall out by accident to the fortunate, is
their chiefest and most fatal blunder. The satisfying goods of life, whether
they be spiritual, moral, intellectual or physical, have a nature which
renders it impossible for them ever to be won by luck, like a lottery
prize, or for them to drop into a man's lap by some happy accident. They
cannot come at all except by our toiling to make them come, and even then
they cannot come except at the cost of changes and trans-formations in
our own natures, which are often painful and costly to make.
Such is the meaning of your allegorical entrance into Solomon's Temple
as a candidate in the Second Degree. You can see at once that all the
other symbols and allegories in the Degree are to be interpreted in the
light of that meaning; you can also see that in the light of that meaning
the Degree itself and as a whole becomes a living power, by which to shape
and build our lives, not only in the Lodge room itself but in the world
of human experience of which the Lodge room is a symbol.
DULY AND TRULY PREPARED
At the outset of this Degree, it should be clear to the candidate that
although much of it seems familiar, it is also very different, and some
aspects even seem to be in opposition to the previous Degree. There are
certain avenues of further exploration that should be brought out here.
We are usually given an explanation for most parts of the ritual in the
various lectures. Some seem to allude to deeper interpretations. As we
prepare to enter the Mysteries of Freemasonry certain things should be
kept in mind. For example, the number three keeps emerging in the rituals
in one way or another. Geometrically, three is the triangle. And in fact,
there are three kinds of triangles: the equilateral triangle (all three
sides equal), the isosceles triangle (two sides equal), and the scalene
triangle (no sides equal).
Many of the mythological gods or heroes that were smiths or artificers
for the gods were lame. For example, the Roman god Vulcan and the Greek
god Hephaestus. Vulcan was crippled as a result of being thrown down to
earth. He is usually depicted with tools as he is patron of craftsmen.
Scalene in one sense means unequal and used in another means limping.
The most celebrated scalene triangle is, of course, the 3-4-5 right triangle,
which is of special concern to Freemasons. We will cover this more fully
in our discussion of the Master Mason Degree. There is an interesting
story by the Roman poet Virgil in his epic The Aeneid that is highly suggestive.
In Book IV he writes about Queen Dido who, because of her despair and
anguish, commits to sacrificing herself. She performs various rites in
preparation of that supreme moment and finally: “Dido herself with
consecrated grain in her pure hands, as she went near the altars, freed
one foot from sandal straps, let fall her dress ungirdled, and, now sworn
to death, called on the gods and stars that knew her fate.” It is
also noteworthy that she was supposed to be of Tyrian origin.
There is a Byzantine painting known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,”
which pictures the divine child in his mothers’ arms. Angels are
shown at either side with implements of the Crucifixion. The child is
turning towards an angel, and one of his shoes is falling off.
The changes in dress from an Entered apprentice Mason to a Fellow Craft
Mason have been explained in the ceremony. Gaining admission is similar
to the First Degree, with addition of a pass, which is given for him by
his conductor. We are trying to teach that the knowledge and energy are
freely given toward gaining the privileges of Freemasonry, and that by
the aid of others, we are able to advance.
It takes on a new significance during your reception for this Degree.
The square should be a rule and guide to your future actions with mankind.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A FELLOWCRAFT
In addition to the rights you acquired as an Entered Apprentice Mason,
you have the right to sit in a Lodge when opened in the Fellowcraft Degree,
when accompanied by a Master Mason who has sat in Lodge with you. You
may visit another Lodge opened in the Fellowcraft Degree. You have the
right to be instructed and examined. If found proficient, you may request
advancement to the next degree.
The responsibilities are found in part in the Obligation, and you should
review these along with the Obligation of the Entered Apprentice. Finally,
you are reminded that you are to acquire the special knowledge introduced
in this Degree and seek to apply that knowledge to your duties in life
so you can occupy your place in society with satisfaction and honor.
THE WORKING TOOLS
The Square is the symbol of morality, truthfulness and honesty. The direction
of the two sides of the Square form an angle of 90°, or a right angle,
so-called because this is the angle which stones must have if they are
to be used to build a stable and upright wall. It symbolizes accuracy,
not even varying by a single degree. When we part upon the Square, we
go in different directions, but in full knowledge that our courses in
life will be going according to the angle of the Square (which means in
the right direction), until we meet again.
The Level is a symbol of equality. We do not mean equality in wealth,
social distinction, civic office, or service to mankind; but, rather,
we refer to the internal, and not the external, qualifications. Each person
is endowed with a worth and dignity which is spiritual, and should not
be subject to man-made distinctions. Masonry recognizes that one man may
have greater potential in life, service, or reward, than another; but,
we also believe that any man can aspire to any height, no matter how great.
Thus, the Level dignifies labor and the man who performs it. It also acknowledges
that all men are equal without regard to station. The Level also symbolizes
the passage of time.
The Plumb is a symbol of uprightness of conduct. In Freemasonry, it is
associated with the plumb line which the Lord promised Amos he would set
in the midst of His people, Israel, symbolizing God's standard of divine
righteousness. The plumb line in the midst of a people should mean that
they will be judged by their own sense of right and wrong, and not by
the standards of others. By understanding the Plumb, a Mason is to judge
his Brothers by their own standards and not those of someone else. When
the plumb line is thought of in this way, it becomes a symbol of an upright
life and of the conscience by which each person must live. This idea is
closely tied to the concept of Justice. For, in truth, Justice is giving
another man his due.
The attentive ear, the instructive tongue, and the faithful breast, remind
the Craftsman that the time-honored method of instruction is by word of
mouth. These Jewels should signify the necessity to learn to utilize good
Masonic instruction and develop a devotion to the teachings of our Craft.
OTHER IMPORTANT SYMBOLS
THE PILLARS ON THE PORCH
Two pillars were placed at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple, which
are symbolically represented within every Masonic Lodge. These pillars
are symbols of strength and establishment - and by implication, power
and control. One must remember that power and control are placed before
you, so you might realize that power without control is anarchy, or that
control without power is futility. Man must have both if his life is to
The construction of dual pillars, obelisks, sphinxes and so on was not
uncommon in the ancient Near East. It is not known what their exact symbolism
was. Speculation ranges from their signifying duality (that duality or
polarity are twin forces throughout Creation), guardianship of the temple,
symbolic gateways, to the idea of being a connection between heaven and
Some researchers have thought that the two pillars before Solomon’s
Temple represented the Pillar of Water and the Pillar of Fire, which led
the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land. It was their guide
in the light as well as in the dark. These pillars were designed and cast
by Hiram out of Tyre, a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali.
(Reference: 1st Kings 7: 13-14)
The globes on the columns are said to be the celestial and terrestrial
spheres representing heaven and earth.
The two pillars also correspond to the Three Great Supports of Masonry.
The columns of Wisdom and Strength are emblematically represented by the
pillars in the South and North, respectively. The candidate, as he is
brought into the Lodge, comes to represent the third column of Beauty
THE WINDING STAIRCASE
As we mentioned before, the Winding Staircase is a symbol of ascension.
It is described as consisting of three, five, and seven steps. The number
of steps has changed over the years. Sometimes there were only five and
at others seven. Preston listed thirty-six, dividing them into one, three,
five, seven, nine and eleven. The Hemming lectures listed the number at
twenty-five. American Masonry has kept to fifteen. Note the connection
between this number and the number of Fellowcrafts in the Third Degree.
Much of the symbolism of the Winding Staircase is explained in the ritual
itself. There are some points to bring out that may lead one to further
research and insight.
The significance of the number three has already been mentioned. We have
the three Degrees, the Three Great Lights, the three Columns, the three
Officers, the Three Grand Masters and the three Principle Tenets of Freemasonry.
What we want to emphasize here is the Three Theological Virtues: Faith,
Hope, and Charity. These virtues were considered a ladder to heaven, another
symbol of ascent. The Four Cardinal Virtues presented in the First Degree
compliment these in the sense that the Four are symbolically horizontal
(basically dealing with our actions here on earth) while the Three are
symbolically vertical (referring to our method of ascent to further light).
Our Aprons are composite examples of the Three and the Four making Seven.
The Five Steps are also explained in some detail. A few points for further
consideration concern the symbolism of the number five. The geometrical
symbol of five is, of course, the pentagram. The emblem of Pythagoras’
fraternity was the five-pointed star. At each point of the star was a
Greek letter which all together spelled a Greek word meaning “health”
(ugitha). The pentagram is a symbol of the Microcosm, that is, Man.
Another avenue to explore is the ratio of the column height to diameter.
They are approximately: Tuscan 1/7; Doric 1/8; Ionic 1/9; Corinthian and
Composite 1/10. The Doric, Ionic and Corinthian were designed by the Greeks;
they were the original orders of architecture and differed from each other.
It is also worth studying which order of architecture was used to build
a particular type of temple. The Parthenon on the Acropolis, dedicated
to Athena, is Doric, as is her temple at Delphi. The Ephesian temple of
Diana, a moon goddess, is Ionic. The importance of the compass to the
Ionic Order is also worthy of study.
The Seven Steps symbolize the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. They are
Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy.
The greatest of these is Geometry, Geometry is the first and noblest of
sciences and the basis upon which the superstructure of Freemasonry is
erected). These were formulated as early as 330 CE. The Christian scholars
adopted them soon afterwards and we find their full flowering at the Neo-platonic
Cathedral School of Chartres in 12th Century France. The interesting work
that came together here was the union of the philosophies of Neo-platonism
and Christianity. The study of the Seven Liberal Arts was considered a
means to the knowledge of God. This principle was actually expressed in
the construction of the Gothic Cathedral of Chartres. We even find for
the first time sculpted representations of the Seven Liberal Arts on the
West Door of the Cathedral.
The Masters of Chartres taught that the proper study of the Seven Liberal
Arts guided the intellect to approach the hidden light behind the world.
The invisible underlying structure of Reality, the Truth, could be apprehended
in this way. As another matter of interest, it was in the mid-thirteenth
century that the humble mason who had mastered the Seven Liberal Arts
was entitled to the designation of architect.
ADMISSION TO THE MIDDLE CHAMBER
The passage from the Outer Porch to the Middle Chamber represents a definite
step in the journey to enlightenment. The wages received in the Middle
Chamber come as a result of achieving this distinction. Remember that
the candidate had to first ascend the Winding Staircase in order to gain
admission. The Fellowcraft must become proficient in the Seven Liberal
Arts. A regular study of the subjects is demanded to gain admission to
the outer doors leading to this Middle Chamber. It is when the initiate
begins to perceive the synthetic vision of this Masonic education and
a special intuition begins to dawn within his mind and conscience that
he knows the inner doors are opening to that Chamber within. Outside,
the candidate was shown a symbol of plenty, but here it has been established
THE WAGES OF A FELLOWCRAFT
Corn, Wine, and Oil are symbolic wages earned by the Fellowcraft Mason
who arrives at the Middle Chamber. These symbolize wealth in mental and
spiritual worlds. Corn represents nourishment and the sustenance of life.
It is also a symbol of plenty, and refers to the opportunity for doing
good, to work for the community, and to the performance of service to
mankind. The Corn referred to in this Degree is actually what we call
Wine is symbolic of refreshment, health, spirituality, and peace. Oil
represents joy, gladness and happiness. Taken together, Corn, Wine, and
Oil represent the temporal rewards of living a good life.
The actual "wages" are the intangible but no less real compensation
for a faithful and intelligent use of the Working Tools, fidelity to your
obligations, and unflagging interest in and study of the structure, purpose
and possibilities of the Fraternity. Such wages may be defined in terms
of a deeper understanding of brotherhood, a clearer conception of ethical
living, a broader toleration, and a more resolute will to think justly,
independently, and honestly.
Corn or grain has also represented the concept of resurrection. Wine has
symbolized mystical attainments, divine intoxication and ecstasy. Oil
is one of the elements of consecration. Perfumed oil was used to anoint.
THE MASONIC LETTER "G"
Why the letter “G” is so prominently displayed in Masonic
lodges is an enigma to Masonic historians. Like the sphinx before the
pyramids, it stands before us in silence and mystery. It is not consistently
displayed throughout the Masonic world and there are Masonic scholars
who feel it should be removed. The reason that it is so displayed is plainly
given to the candidate in this Degree. We are told that it is the initial
of Geometry as well as the initial of the name of the Supreme Being. From
the time of the “Old Charges” and manuscripts up to the present,
the synonymous nature of Geometry and Masonry is clearly stated. It is
also obvious that “G” is the initial of God. This alone may
be sufficient reason for its presence.
There are other considerations that the Masonic student might want to
take into account. The immediate question for some may be why is Geometry
given such exalted status? One might also observe that the word “God”
is not a name per se, but is a category of being – like “human
being”. The name of the Supreme Being depends on what tradition
a person follows, and it would not be incorrect to say that the True Name
of the Supreme Being cannot be known. Obviously, then, the letter "G"
does not refer to the common usage of that term.
These two issues have given rise to much speculation regarding the focus
given to this one letter of the alphabet. We will offer a few of these
speculations for your benefit.
The ancient languages of Phoenician, Hebrew and Greek all placed the “G”
in the third place. In Hebrew, the order is aleph, beth, gimel. In Greek,
the order is alpha, beta, gamma and so on. The Phoenician/Hebrew letter
gimel means camel. There is an interesting passage in the Gospel of St.
Matthew regarding our patron John the Baptist: “And the same John
had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his
loins.” (Matt 3:4) In both Hebrew and Greek, each letter is assigned
a numerical value as well as a phonetic one, so that “G” is
equivalent to the number “3” in both languages. The Greek
letter gamma looks like an upside down “L”. It is two perpendicular
lines forming the angle of a square. Gamma is also associated with Dionysus
The importance of Geometry to a full understanding of Freemasonry becomes
apparent to the candidate as he progresses through the degrees. He is
unequivocally informed that Geometry is the basis or foundation of Masonry.
A full explanation for this importance is not forthcoming, just that it
is very important to undertake the study. We would suggest that the Masonic
student might follow some of the following lines of research that he may
come to his own conclusions.
It is thought that the Egyptians became skilled at surveying because the
annual flooding of the Nile obliterated boundary markers in their fields.
They had to set out and calculate new boundaries each year. The Greeks
named this skill Geometry, or “earth measurement.” Empirical
generalizations were derived, presumably, from their experience in field
measurement. The Greeks, it is thought, made the advancement of using
deductive logic to expand the knowledge into a theoretical science, and
Pythagoras is credited with this achievement. This actually set the groundwork
for the development of the sciences. So we may consider Geometry the first
Pythagoras and his Society, and later, Plato and his Academy, raised Geometry
to a sacred science of discovering the nature of reality and through it
the Deity. We have such statements from Plato as: “Geometry rightly
treated is the knowledge of the eternal.” And also: “Geometry
must ever tend to draw the soul towards the truth.” Later, Euclid
systemically presented all the knowledge of Geometry in his work Elements
of Geometry, beginning with five unproved principles about lines, angles,
and figures, which he called postulates. Euclid uses only the compass
and straight edge for all the drawings, proofs, and solutions.
There are some Masonic researchers who think that the letter “G”
represents a little known method of Biblical interpretation known as gematria.
One of the earliest known references to this method is found about 200
CE in the Bariatha of R. Eliezer ben R. Jose, the Galiean, which is a
collection of 32 rabbinical rules. Gematria is listed within this treatise
as a rabbinical method of biblical exegesis. As already mentioned, the
Hebrew and Greek alphabets were also used as numbers. Therefore, every
Hebrew word and every Greek word is the sum of the value of the individual
letters. Exploring this technique of letter-number substitution, one looks
for words, names, and phrases that add up to like values. Like values
are thought to have meaningful relationships. For example, the Hebrew
word for “heaven” (ha-shamayim) has the same gematria value
as the word for “soul” (neshamah); that is, 395, derived by
adding up each letter to arrive at a total. The Qabalist would say this
means that the soul is identical with heaven.
Another example of gematria can be found by comparing the Hebrew words
for “love” (ahebah) and “unity” (echad), both
of which add to 13. Combining the values of these two words gives us 26,
the number of the Hebrew word rendered in English as Jehovah, the principal
Name of God. This is a clear intimation that the nature of God can be
understood as Love and Unity.
This exegetical technique can be used with both the Hebrew scriptures
and the Greek Christian scriptures. There are other texts that have been
found to contain hidden gematria in Latin and Arabic, as well. From the
practice of gematria have arisen extremely interesting techniques, which
reveal a type of spiritual Geometry hidden within the Scriptures.
NUMBER, ORDER, SYMMETRY AND PROPORTION
The great teachings of this Degree revolve around the importance of the
Masonic study of number, order, symmetry and proportion. The Masonic use
of the term Geometry includes all of these. Nature is the true temple
of the Deity. If this is so, then cosmic and natural laws are like the
Trestleboard. These laws are discovered in the practice of the Seven Arts
(they were called liberal arts because their practice liberated the mind).
The ancient philosophers considered Geometry to have the power to lead
the mind from the world of appearances to the contemplation of the divine
order. Further study would most certainly include a detailed study of
Pythagorean number philosophy, the Golden Mean, Plato’s work, the
Neoplatonists, and Qabalistic gematria.
INTERPRETATION OF THE RITUAL OF THE SECOND DEGREE
As a Fellowcraft Mason. The purpose now is to try to explain something
of the meaning of the Degree of which it is the name; I say "something
of the meaning" advisedly, because it would require many whole evenings
to explain it in full.
Because the Fellowcraft Degree chances to lie between the Entered Apprentice
and Master Mason Degree you must not permit yourself to fall into the
error of considering it a half-way station, a mere transition from one
to the other. It has in itself the same completeness, the same importance,
as each of the other two, with a definite purpose of its own; and unless
you understand its teachings thoroughly your initiation will fail of its
There are two great ideas embodied in it. They are not the only ideas
in it, but if you understand them they will lead you into an understanding
of the others.
One of these is the idea of adulthood.
"Where the Entered Apprentice represents youth standing at the portals
of life, his eyes on the rising sun, and where the Master Mason stands
as the man of years, already on the farther slope of the hill with the
setting sun in his eyes, the Fellowcraft is a man in the prime of life—experienced,
strong, resourceful, able to bear the heat and burden of the day.
It is only in its very narrowest sense that adulthood can be described
in the terms of years. When he comes to experience it a man discovers
that the mere fact that he is forty or fifty years of age has little to
do with it. Adulthood is a condition, a state of life, a station charged
with a set of duties.
It is the man in his middle years who carries the responsibilities. It
is he upon whom a family depends for support; he is the Atlas on whose
shoulders rest the burdens of business; by his skill and experience the
arts are sustained; to his keeping are entrusted the destinies of the
State. It is said that in the building of his Temple, King Solomon employed
eighty thousand Fellowcrafts, or "hewers in the mountains and quarries";
the description is a suggestive one, for it is by these men and women
who live in the Fellowcraft period of life that the hewing is done, in
the mountains, or in the quarries, or anywhere else.
And it is not their responsibility for toil alone that tests the metal
in their nature; they live in a period of disillusionment. Youth is enthusiastic,
carefree, filled with high hopes; the up-ward sloping path before it is
bathed in morning light. Old age is mellowed, the battle lies behind it;
it does not struggle or cry aloud, and walks where the landscape lies
in the mystical light of the dying sun. Young men see visions; old men
The Fellowcraft walks in the full, uncolored light of the noon time. Everything
stands starkly before him, in its most un-compromising reality; if he
was buoyed by boyish illusions as to the ease of life and the sufficiency
of his strength a little while ago, those illusions have now evaporated
in the heat of the day; and if after a few more years he will have learned
mellow peace and resignation, that time has not yet come. It is for him
to bend his back and bear the load.
What does the Second Degree have to say to the Fellowcraft, whether in
Masonry or in the world at large? The answer to that brings us to our
That idea is this, that the Fellowcraft may so equip himself that he will
prove adequate to the tasks which will be laid upon him.
What is that equipment? The Degree gives us at least three answers. Let
us ponder each of them a moment.
The first answer is that the Fellowcraft must gain direct experience from
contact with the realities of existence. You will recall what was said
about the Five Senses. Needless to say, that portion of the Middle Chamber
Lecture was not intended to be a disquisition on either physiology or
psychology; it is symbolism, and represents what a man learns through
seeing, touching, tasting, hearing and smelling—in short, immediate
experience. A man garners such experience only with the passage of time;
each day he must come into contact with facts; what he learns one day
must be added to the next, and so on from year to year, until at last,
through the very contacts of his senses with the objects which make up
the world, he has come to understand that world, how to deal with it,
how to master it at the point where he stands.
The second answer is education. After all, an individual's possible experience
is extremely limited, circumscribed by the length of his cable tow. Could
we learn of life only that in it with which we are brought into contact
by our own senses, then would we be indeed poorly equipped to deal with
its complexities and responsibilities! No! To our own store of hard-won
experience, we must add the experience of others, supplementing our experience
by the information of countless men brought to us through many channels;
our own knowledge must be made complete by the knowledge taught us by
the race and its teachers.
We have a perfect picture of this inside Freemasonry. Consider the Apprentice
in the days when Masons were builders of great and costly structures.
He was a mere boy, ten to fifteen years of age, scarcely knowing one tool
from another, entirely ignorant of the secrets and arts of the builders;
and yet, after seven years or so he was able to produce his master's piece
and to take his place at any task to which the Worshipful Master might
appoint him. How was this miracle accomplished? Not by his own unaided
efforts, but by teaching, by the Master Masons about him guiding his clumsy
hands and passing on to him in many lessons what they had been years in
Such is education. It is symbolized in the Second Degree by the Liberal
Arts and Sciences. Perhaps you were somewhat nonplussed to hear what was
said about grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy,
and wondered what such schoolroom topics had to do with Masonry. You understand
now! The explanation of these subjects was not meant to be an academic
lecture out of a college course; like so much else in the Degree it was
symbolism, and the symbolism signifies all that is meant by education—our
training by others in skill and knowledge to do or to understand certain
kinds of tasks.
A Fellowcraft of life then must be equipped with experience and knowledge.
Is there anything more l Yes, there is a third answer, and it is of more
importance than either of the other two. That third answer is wisdom.
Experience gives us awareness of the world at that point where we are
in immediate contact with it; knowledge gives us competency for special
tasks in the arts, trades, professions, callings and vocations. But a
man's life is not confined to his own immediate experience; nor is he
day and night engaged in the same task; life is more complex, is richer
than that! It comes to us compounded of all manner of things, a great
variety of experiences, a constant succession of situations, a never-ending
list of new problems, and it is full of people with all of their reactions,
emotions, varied characters, and behaviors. The world is infinitely greater
than what each of us now sees, hears or feels; it is far more complex
than our accustomed daily tasks.
Therefore, if we are to be happy in our life in such a world, we must
have the ability to understand and to cope with this complex whole; we
must be able to meet situations that have never arisen before. Imagine
a symphony being rendered by an orchestra. Each player must be able to
see, to touch, and to hear, or he cannot even hold an instrument in his
hands; he must have knowledge of his own musical score and of the capacities
of his instrument; but the conductor must have all this, plus an understanding
of all the instruments and of the com-position as a whole. His skill and
knowledge must embrace not only each instrument in turn, with each player's
score, but all of them together, and at once.
This conductor is not a misleading picture of wisdom. A man may see, hear,
touch, and handle things so much that he wins a rich experience, and yet
not have knowledge; and a man may have such knowledge, may have mastered
some task, or art, or trade, and yet be unhappy and a failure as a human
being be-cause he cannot adjust himself to the complex system of realities,
experiences and facts which make up life as a whole. He may lack wisdom—competency
to deal with each situation that arises, it matters not what it may be.
The Middle Chamber, or Sanctum Sanctorum, which is so conspicuous an element
in the Second Degree, doubtless has many other meanings, but it most certainly
has this—that it is a symbol of the wisdom of which I have just
been speaking. Through the experience of the Five Senses, up through the
knowledge gained of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, the candidate is called
to advance, as on a Winding Stair, to that balanced wisdom of life in
which the senses, emotions, intellect, character, work, deeds, habits
and soul of a man are knit together in unity, balanced, poised, adequate.
If the Fellowcraft will thus equip himself—whether you think of
him as inside Masonry or without—he need not shrink from his toil
nor will he faint beneath the heat and burden of the day, because his
competency as a human being will be equal to the demands made upon him.
This interpretation of the Fellowcraft Degree, as stated in the beginning,
touches but the hem of its manifold meanings; but it has been the purpose
only to give you certain suggestions; and hope that with them now in your
possession you may be inspired to search out all the other meanings for
GLOSSARY - FELLOWCRAFT
caution advise or counsel against; to express warning or disapproval;
to give friendly, earnest advice and encouragement
skilled or artistic worker or craftsman; one who makes beautiful objects
or producing good
from bias, prejudice or malice; fairness; impartiality
uppermost part of a column
alternate, and earlier, form of the word capital
supporting pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft and a
of the five orders of architecture, combining the Corinthian and Ionic
especially a large, disastrous fire
look at attentively and thoughtfully; to consider carefully
devise; to plan; to invent or build in an artistic or ingenious manner
of the three classical (Greek) orders of architecture - the most ornamented
of the three. Originated in the City of Corinth in Greece.
ancient unit of linear measure, approximately 18 inches in today's
lower than its surroundings
insight and understanding; excellent judgment
every day; having a daily cycle
of the three classical (Greek) orders of architecture - the oldest
and simplest of the three, originated in an area of ancient Greece
known as Doris
building, especially one of imposing appearance or size
of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, descended from Ephraim, one
of the sons of Jacob
respect or reverence paid or rendered; expression of high regard
order or requirement placed upon someone by a superior
overflow with water; a flood
of the three classical (Greek) orders of architecture, originated
in an area of ancient Greece known as Ionia
exercising or characterized by sound judgment; discrete; wise
of the sons of Jacob, brother of Joseph, and a founder of one of the
twelve tribes of Israel
beginner; a novice
try to conceal the seriousness of an offense by excuses and apologies;
to moderate the intensity of; to reduce the seriousness of; to relieve
or lessen without curing
upright architectural member that is rectangular in plan and is structurally
a pier, but is architecturally treated as a column; it usually projects
a third of its width or less from the wall
ball or knob
voice disapproval of; to express an attitude of unhappiness and disgust
a beneficial effect; remedial; promoting health; curative; wholesome
at a time; each by itself; separately; independently
written notice issued for an especially important meeting of a Lodge,
the written notice or requirement by authority to appear at a place
geometrical object which is of two dimensions and exists in a single
based on, or rising from, some foundation or basis; an entity, concept
or complex based on a more fundamental one
of the five orders of architecture, originated in the Tuscany area
of southern Italy
Country From Whose Bourne No Traveler Returns
which lies beyond death; the afterlife
Hamlet: Act III, Scene 1
successive, alternating or changing phases or conditions of life or
fortune; ups and downs; the difficulties of life; difficulties or
hardships which are part of a way of life or career
Questions for the Fellowcraft Degree
1. Which part of man
is dealt with in the Fellowcraft Degree?
2. This degree depicts
man in which period of his life?
3. What is the central
motif of this degree, and what is its most prominent symbol?
4. How were you received
upon first entering a Lodge of Fellowcraft Masons? What is this meant
to teach you?
5. What are the four
rights of a Fellowcraft Mason?
6. What are the responsibilities
of a Fellowcraft?
7. What are the Working
Tools of this degree and what do they symbolize?
8. Name the Three
Jewels of a Fellowcraft Mason.
9. What do the Two
Brazen Pillars represent?
10. Is there a third
Pillar? Where is it and why is it significant?
11. How many steps
are there on the Winding Staircase? Give three examples of the number
three in Freemasonry.
12. Give three examples
of the number three in Freemasonry.
13. What are the Three
Theological Virtues? Which Virtues do they compliment from the Entered
14. According to Masonic
Tradition, who fashioned the original Pillars at King Solomon’s
15. What are the five
Orders of Architecture?
16. Which three are
particularly essential to Masons? Why?
17. Name the Seven
Liberal Arts and Sciences.
18. Which of the seven
is most important to Masons and why?
19. Where is the Middle
Chamber? How do we gain admission?
20. What are the Wages
of a Fellowcraft Mason?
21. What do these
22. Which letter is
suspended in the East, and what does it represent?
23. Did reading
this book add anything to your experience in taking the Second Degree
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